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Author Topic: Untitled Data Entry 706.ioC.02  (Read 51 times)

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stormie

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Untitled Data Entry 706.ioC.02
« On: June 22, 2017, 12:38:14 PM »
Author's Notes: so, this one's Doctor Who fanfiction set in the time war era, but trust me in that you don't have to be familiar with DW at all to understand this, it's so far out of the realms of canon. I submitted it to a school literary magazine as original fiction once and it got in.

In short, it's about a routine resurrection gone wrong, set in a world many ways not our own.

"You" aren't anyone in particular for once; they're a specific person but not one I've made up anything else about outside what's revealed here. They could be anyone.

Re: what the fuck is up with Vansell's pronouns - all time lords' full eldritch forms have weird and esoteric pronouns, so given that the dialogue is "translated to English" as it were (they're speaking Gallifreyan) I just use they for this. Once they condense down into a "practical form" (bipedal, mostly human shaped) the narrator genders them based off that and switches to he. Drax however assumes nothing and uses they as a generic pronoun to refer to them. At this point in their existence "they" is probably most correct.


Warnings for ableism, both mild and to the extent of threat of murder, referenced euthanasia, and light body horror.

AO3 link



Untitled Data Entry 706.ioC.02

You’re on duty when the list of people to resurrect comes around to Lord Coordinator Vansellostophossius.

Not that you’re ever off duty these days - you missed them bringing back some of the greats, back when you were on normal schedule, but now they’ve got the device running day and night, and you’ve seen enough by this point not to mind that you weren’t one of the techs who by chance had the honour to see Pandak the nth brought back into the flesh. They exhausted that list, all the old celebrated presidents, and then moved onto the ones that simply weren’t hated, and then proceeded to councilmen and captains of the guard and of course coordinators, and by this point they’re just going chronologically instead of by popularity.

Or, rather, you are - the device does most of the work and they’re in constant want of warm bodies, so you’re alone at this station. Well. Alone except for the sorry piles of flesh and mind that materialise in the chamber before you.

Most of them turn out okay. The device draws their consciousness out of the matrix, and provides the material for them to mentally condense a form for themselves, which they ought to on instinct. It’s simple enough, and it’s only principle that stopped them from starting this business earlier. However, it’s not always so easy for the subjects themselves. You haven’t been able to discern a predictable pattern: if you could it’d save you a lot of time and trouble, skipping over those people who are only going to fall to - sometimes literal - pieces. But you’ve noticed it’s often to do with the circumstances of their death - people whose consciousnesses were obliterated, who died in temporal accidents (or incidents), or who were already mentally weak when they were alive. You’ve seen people collapse into piles of flesh and guts after failing to hold themselves together, manage nothing further than a mess of cellular goo, or fail to manifest entirely and become like ghosts you have to eliminate before they diffuse too much and interfere with the device.

So you don’t have high hopes for this particular Lord Coordinator, who, according to the matrix data, was atomised in an alternate dimension. The machinery, while you were calibrating it, had trouble identifying their presence in the matrix. Probably to do with the different timeline, you’d wager, but you’re not an expert. They can’t spare the experts right now. It did find them eventually, though, so you do your job, and pull the lever.

The chamber fills with light, foggy from your perspective behind the auto-shaded glass. It’s taking longer than average to fade, but before it does, before you can see what physical form, if any, they’ve manifested in, their psychic presence washes over you. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever felt before, like a blow to the stomach, and you double over over the control panel and try not to wretch. The chamber is supposed to protect you from this, you’re not supposed to have any exposure, mental or physical, until they’re confirmed stable and released. It’s specifically designed for that. You’re not supposed to make contact with the dead.

You stay down for a few moments. The psychic presence doesn’t go away. You’re trembling, your eyes watering, as you raise your head, leaning on the console for support.

The Lord Coordinator is lying on the smooth, white floor of the chamber, loosely curled next to a small pool of bile. People have often had violent reactions to being brought back to life, but you’ve never had to share in it with them before. At least they’re an appropriate shape, though a lot of their features appear blackened and dead. You tear your attention away from the prone figure and look at the figures flashing across the screen next to you instead. At least the scanners seem unaffected by the unusual psychic presence. You look back at the sound of them retching again, then away. You don’t want to watch that.

Instead, you read the information on the screens. They’re physically stable, despite everything. The scan of their internal organs is showing some fairly unusual organisation, but they have everything they need in an order that can function, so you’re not supposed to scrap them - even if, with a mental presence like this, you think your superiors might thank you. The mind is supposed to be kept intact in the matrix. Trauma from the experience of being dead is expected, but not… this. The scanner can’t even get a read on their mind: half of it is reporting it as normal as the matrix imprint it created them based off of, and the other half is static.

You’ve never seen the equipment behave like this before. You’ve never seen a mind behave like this before.

You’re trembling again as you slowly turn back to look at them. You meet a single hazel-gold bloodshot eye. All the rest of the sockets you can see are blackened and empty. You have never experienced eye contact like this before, either.

You forget, for several long seconds, what you’re supposed to be doing. You forget there is anything in the universe besides you and your fear.

They move, push themselves up to be sitting. You snap out of it. If there is anything else left in existence, it is a job for you to reluctantly do.

You lean closer to the microphone; switch it on. ‘Lord Vansellostophossius,’ you say, and they look at you again, and you empathise completely with the abject terror in their gaze. Your voice trembles as much as your body. ‘You have been resurrected at the behest of the High Council and the Celestial Intervention Agency to serve in the Third War in Heaven. The year is 1008.XAoi.376. Further information will be provided to you once you are confirmed stable. Please assume a practical form if you are able.’

You turn the microphone away from you and wait. They blink, otherwise unmoving, and your hearts pound in your chest as you think that you may need to scrap them after all. They’re not any good to anyone if they’re stuck like this, or if they can’t process language, or any of the things that could be going wrong here. But then they shift, slowly condense down into a feeble figure on all fours, small and pitiful against the vast whiteness of the chamber. You look at the screen. They’re - he’s - stable, even if the left side of his face is partially deactivated and he has an excessive number of digits. His arms quiver and he collapses to be lying on the floor again.

You turn the microphone to face you again, clear your throat, try to hide your revulsion with the whole sorry affair. ‘I am going to test your functioning capabilities. Please follow the instructions on the screen.’ You don’t press the button. ‘Please stand when you are ready.’

You stare at the button until you sense movement. Seven minutes and thirty-eight seconds pass. Half of you wants to scrap him; wants to do anything to get away from that psychic presence. They wouldn’t blame you, even if you told the truth. They’d thank you. You don’t need more invalids in a war.

When you look up, he’s standing. You hit the button as soon as you’ve taken this fact in, and hang around only long enough to ensure the computer’s doing its job before absconding to the adjacent break room.

You’re technically supposed to observe while he completes the tests, but the computer will alert you if he fails, and it records a video and psychic imprint of him for administrative reasons anyway, so you don’t really need to - and Rassilon but you want to get away right now. Your hands shake as you pour yourself a glass of water. You have an overwhelming urge to pour it over your own head, but instead you just sip it and stare at the wall and tremble. You feel like you’re going mad.

There’s a knock on the door and you jump, spilling water over your hand and onto the floor, and your spines almost extend from your shoulders before you manage to collect yourself. You’re still terrified as you go down the short hallway to answer the door. You don’t have any meetings or inspections scheduled. Anyone who would have reason to drop by has the proper scan permissions to get in without you having to let them. You can’t easily access the security footage for this sector from here.

You stand in the airlock and try to decide what to do. Most people know what you do here and not to disturb your work, therefore, it must be an emergency. But your communicator is fully functioning, and surely it would be faster to notify you via that if you had to evacuate or anything of the like. Or, someone in an adjacent sector needs something. But you have nothing that would be of use to any job besides your own. Maybe it’s nothing to worry about; simply a possibility you haven’t accounted for.

Maybe you really shouldn’t open that door.

Whoever is outside knocks again. You can’t even sense them through the doorway to try to judge their intent that way; these rooms are psychically sealed, just like the chamber is supposed to be. You wonder if they’ll wait until you can contact your superiors. But you know what the answer will be, no point bothering them, no point going through all the trouble and mess.

They speak. You can’t make out what they’ve said from the other side of the reinforced door, but their voice is casual, not aggressive, not scary. You have an idea, all of a sudden, and leave the airlock to stand just outside it; you can let them in from there. You’re not sure how much this is actually going to protect you, but it’s strong enough to keep out dirt and bacteria, so that’s got to count for something. You can convince yourself you feel safer.

You hold your breath as you press the switch to unlock the door. A hulking figure is revealed as it automatically opens, and your spines tear through the shoulders of your robes as your fear comes back to you all at once. His mind is distinct to you as soon as he steps into the airlock: he feels like alien sunsets and broken teeth and rich, dark mud. It’s much better than the Lord Coordinator’s, whose mind feels more than a little like vomit, but nonetheless, it’s strangely dirty, strangely foreign.

You’ve never met a renegade before.

His steel-toed boots click against the plain white floor of the airlock as he walks easily up to the door to talk to you. He’s displaying calm, nonaggressive - concerned, even, and this only goes to make you realise how much, in contrast, your hackles are raised from the day’s stressors. Your spines are still showing, your teeth are sharp, you’re displaying afraid without even meaning to - you’re not usually like this, you’re no worse at keeping yourself under control than anyone ought to be. Part of you doesn’t care, he’s a renegade for Rassilon’s sake, and you’re tired and shaken and nothing but scared these days. Another part cares deeply despite. You don’t know which you hate more, but you end up smoothing your spines flat as you take a deep breath. You’re good and proper and do not flare up at people, even if they are renegades, dressed in trousers instead of robes and with grease under their fingernails.

‘Hey,’ he says. ‘Didn’t mean to scare you.’

You don’t say anything.

‘Little birdy told me you’re gonna resurrect one Vansellostophossius,’ he continues, and he’s very good at coding his words with layers of meaning, because you’ve never heard that turn of phrase before but you know exactly what he means. His teeth are blunt, you notice.

You nod, and realise you ought to speak. ‘Of what significance is this to you?’ The pacing of your speech is completely off. You feel your cheeks warm slightly, but he doesn’t seem to care.

‘They’re an old friend.’ He says the word like he means it, and this is another first for you.

‘What do you want?’

‘To see them.’

Your breath catches again, and you feel like the mess in the chamber is somehow your fault. Does he know already? Should you tell him? You’d be perfectly within your right not to, to turn him away, even to call security. But you do not, you do not. Instead you find yourself crumbling in front of the basic desire to see a friend.

‘How do you know them?’ you ask, to buy yourself time, and maybe because you’re curious. He is a Lord Coordinator, after all, not in a position to go around cavorting with renegades. Then again, no-one is.

He laughs a little, and it’s a strange sound, like an animal. ‘We went to school together. Long time ago.’

Not ages; according to the data file he was around seven thousand five hundred when he died, and that was only a few centuries ago. ‘Why come see them now?’

He shrugs, and like everything else, it’s strange to you: a physical gesture, rather than a mental display of ignorance or indifference. ‘Not every day you come back from the dead.’

You’re not the best at reading people, but you get the feeling that’s not the whole story. You don’t know what questions to ask.

He, apparently, does. ‘Have you done it yet?’

His tone has taken on a level of seriousness and concern that makes your skin prickle. It is not the only thing.

You’re silent for too long. ‘Can I see them?’ he asks.

You remain silent, thinking it over, the decision burning cold and bitter in your throat. You aren’t supposed to make decisions like these. You’re supposed to press buttons and read a script and follow a checklist on whether or not to kill people.

‘I’d know that mind anywhere,’ he adds, almost to himself, and that is what gets you: the fact that he can sense this horrible psychic presence, even from behind the airlock door, and he still wants to be in there with him. Your guilt gnaws at the bases of your hearts.

‘Okay,’ you blurt out. Something in his display shifts for a moment; is it surprise? It flashes by as quickly as a child’s emotions. How rude that he doesn’t keep it there long enough for you to read - or maybe he’s just as bad at controlling himself as you are right now. ‘I have to sanitise you first.’

He stands still while you press the corresponding buttons, and closes his eyes while the light washes over him. The door slides open. His fingernails are less disgusting.

'Thanks,’ he says, as he walks past you and down the hall towards the chamber. You hurry after him, and examine the screens while he leans over the console to see into the room below. The tests are finished; he passed, if barely. You’re not sure how long you left him waiting in here.

He’s shivering down in the chamber, looking up at the renegade with one wide eye. You’ve grown used to nudity, working here - it’s impractical to clothe the subjects until they leave the chamber - but you still blush and turn away from his pale, overly thin body. Instead you look at the microphone while speaking into it. ‘Please proceed to the door to your right.’ You open it for him, hear his footsteps echo in the chamber, and the soft whoosh of the lift as it activates.

‘He’ll come in through there,’ you tell the renegade, indicating a door across from the chamber. You don’t watch him enter, you don’t watch much of anything. You stand there and let your internal clock note the passing minutes. The door isn’t soundproofed, so you can hear their muffled voices, low and concerned. You’re supposed to be in there debriefing him, seeing he gets water and clothes. You’re sure he can find them on his own.

Your curiosity motivates you to move after two minutes and fifty three seconds, and you use the scanners and your matrix link to research the renegade. He’s titled the Dragon. You’ve heard that name before: he’s been supplying designs for weapons and field tech. He’s one of the many, many reasons you’re alive right now. He used to be called Drax - and that’s it, no longer name, no former honorific. He was a Prydonian, of Ixion. He’s in his sixth regeneration. He left the planet before he even graduated from the Academy, before he even reached his triple digits. He was a criminal before the war - but of course he was, he’s a renegade. You don’t know what else he would have been.

You can hear soft sobs from the adjacent room, and look round despite yourself. Through the glass door you can see ghostly, mutated hands clutching the back of the Dragon’s animal skin jacket in a comfort-seeking embrace. Your face grows hot and you turn away from the intimacy, back to face the chamber again, and run the sanitation process, and try not to think about how you wanted to kill him. You’re still not comfortable with him in the adjacent room. But he’ll be gone soon, and you’ll likely never have to see him again, at least not until they run out of people for you to run through the device and you start doing who knows what instead. But that’ll never happen, or you’ll die before it does. Or the war will end. That’s a better thought; the war will someday end.

Or you’ll die before it does.

You hear the door open behind you and nearly bare your spines again for how much you jump. They’re holding hands. The Lord Coordinator looks even smaller and paler beside the large, brown figure of the Dragon, in dark, ill-fitting robes. It strikes you again how odd it is that they’re this close, and you wonder for a moment about the real story of why they know each other.

‘I’m taking them with me,’ the Dragon says.

‘But-’ you stammer.

‘If your bosses have a problem with it, they can take it up with me.’

You’ll still be reprimanded, of course; they can’t touch him. But you don’t even try to make yourself stop them as the Dragon murmurs a soft ‘Come on,’ to the Lord Coordinator; as they walk down the corridor, back towards the airlock; as the Dragon switches it open.

They leave. You stand in your ruined robes and weep, mourning a dozen things you cannot name.
heavenly bodies make the devil a little uncomfortable

Lynet

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Re: Untitled Data Entry 706.ioC.02
« Reply #1 On: June 22, 2017, 02:11:16 PM »
This is wild, LOL. I wish I had this much imagination for my SciFi stories. :J
Be polite, or I may put you in a book and kill you.

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stormie

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Re: Untitled Data Entry 706.ioC.02
« Reply #2 On: June 23, 2017, 12:38:20 AM »
Thank you!!! I have a lot of fun writing in settings like these, where everything is different enough to make you really notice but leaning on the emotional similarities to our world so the double take is in the details.
heavenly bodies make the devil a little uncomfortable